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United Nations Daily Highlights, 97-06-02

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From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

DAILY HIGHLIGHTS

Monday, 2 June 1997


This document is prepared by the Central News Section of the Department of Public Information and is updated every week-day at approximately 6:00 PM.

HEADLINES

  • Secretary-General Kofi Annan says Africa can no longer tolerate coups against elected Governments.
  • Under UNESCO auspices, Congo's political leaders sign a solemn commitment for orderly elections.
  • UNICEF's Executive Director pledges commitment to UN reforms.
  • Importance of decolonization matters is emphasized at the Special Committee of 24.
  • UN mission in Angola reports tense situation in the north of the country.
  • Senegal says it would join a consensus on a ban on anti- personnel landmines.
  • Kuwait becomes 61st country to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • UN Committee on peaceful uses of outer space begins session in Vienna.
  • Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council names successor to High Representative Carl Bildt.


Stressing that the will of the people must be the basis of government authority, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that Africa could no longer tolerate and accept as fait accompli coups against elected Governments and the illegal seizure of power by military cliques. In a statement to the annual summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), taking place in Harare, Zimbabwe, the Secretary-General said Africa would succeed to the extent that it embraced the primacy of democratic rule, the inviolability of human rights, and the imperatives of sustainable development.

According to the Secretary-General, the continent was now going through what he described as "Africa's third wave" that followed a series of momentous changes in the continent over the past five decades. "First came decolonization and the struggle against apartheid. Then came a second wave, too often marked by civil wars, the tyranny of military rule, and economic stagnation", the Secretary-General said. He urged that this third wave be one of lasting peace, based on democracy, human rights, and sustainable development, stressing that "the success of the third wave begins with a single and simple proposition: the will of the people".


Major political parties in Congo have signed a commitment to hold peaceful elections in July 1997. The initiative, known as a "Solemn Commitment for Presidential Elections on July 27, 1997", was adopted by the leaders of five parties during a meeting on Saturday in Brazzaville, under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The move was made possible by the mediation of UNESCO Director- General Federico Mayor who went to Brazzaville on Saturday to obtain the commitment of the parties concerned. In a statement released on Monday, UNESCO said that the initiative had an important precedent in a UNESCO- sponsored 1994 National Forum for the Culture of Peace which had produced recommendations for the restoration of regional security and peace to Congolese society. "It is thanks to this initiative that dialogue could be restored in Congo after an interruption of four years", said UNESCO.

In their commitment, the political party leaders of Congo renounced the use of arms for the settlement of conflicts and agreed that incitement to violence, among other issues, must be banned and subjected to due legal process. They also agreed that a national committee, comprising representatives of the government, the political parties and civil society, be established to organise and monitor the elections.


UNICEF Executive-Director Carol Bellamy opened on Monday the annual session of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund by stressing her agency's deep commitment to the reform process both within UNICEF and in the United Nations system as a whole.

On the role of UNICEF as the voice for children, she said it was self- evident that no other United Nations agency spoke directly for children. "If that voice is muted or even stilled, there was a real and present danger that children will become a lesser priority" she said.

During its five-day session, UNICEF's Executive Board will consider a report outlining global trends that affect children. Such trends include the adverse effects of globalization and economic liberalization on poverty reduction, the declining rates of public expenditure on basic social services for the poor, growing urbanization, and women and children as victims of violence. Other reports before the Executive Board deal with human development, children's right to survival, protection and development in Africa, children needing special protection, and follow-up to the 1990 World Summit for Children.


The continuing importance of decolonization matters has been underscored at a meeting of a United Nations special committee charged with monitoring the implementation of the 1960 Declaration on decolonization.

The reminder came in a draft of what one delegation described as a "precautionary resolution" introduced on Friday by Papua New Guinea, as the Special Committee on decolonization discussed a wide range of issues, including dissemination of information on decolonization, and a report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services on its investigation into seminars held by the Committee.

The draft urged the Secretary General to retain a decolonization unit within the UN Department of Political Affairs that could be possibly affected by the reform proposals currently under consideration by the Secretary-General. During the debates, a representative of the Secretariat explained that the Secretary-General had not made any decision on the Decolonization Unit. The Chairman of the Special Committee, Utula Utouc Saman (Papau New Guinea), said that he had not received any response from the Secretariat regarding the future of the Unit in the context of the proposed reforms. The Committee on decolonization, also known as the Special Committee of 24, will take up the matter at its next meeting.


Senegal says it would join a consensus on a ban on anti-personnel land- mines at the Conference on Disarmament as long as the Conference did not ignore the issue of nuclear disarmament. The representative of Senegal Absa Claude Diallo, told the Geneva-based Conference last week that her country was participating in the Ottawa process -- a Canadian initiative aimed at concluding such a ban by the end of the year -- and felt the conference could find a mechanism to deal with the issue as well. She said Senegal had joined 27 other countries to elaborate a programme of action for the elimination of nuclear weapons and supported establishment within the Conference, of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament.
The UN Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III), has observed some movements of the government's military forces in the Lunda Norte province, a United Nations spokesman said on Monday. Noting that the situation in the north of Angola remained tense, the spokesman said there had been reports of gunfire and of some casualties. UNAVEM III, together with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) officials, recently visited refugee camps in the Lunda Norte province. They assessed the condition of refugees and observed the construction of new refugee camps.
Kuwait has become the ninety-first State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, after depositing its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

As of now, 165 States have signed the landmark document, which is officially known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

The implementation of the Convention is being supervised by the recently set up Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Hague-based Organisation has become operational after the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force on 29 April 1997.


An agreement on the details of the next major United Nations conference on space exploration is expected to come out of the deliberations in Vienna where a UN body dealing with peaceful uses of outer space began its session on Monday.

The two-week session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will have its main focus on the objectives, agenda, venue and date for UNISPACE III, a third United Nations conference on space exploration that is scheduled for 1999. The chief aim of the UNISPACE III forum is to promote an effective use of space technology in solving regional and global problems. The conference will also explore ways of strengthening the capabilities of Member States, particularly developing countries, in the use of space research for economic, social and cultural development.

Deliberations on the parameters of UNISPACE III are marked by an attempt to improve cost-effectiveness of UN-sponsored international forums. To deal with an issue of global concern without the cost associated with previously- held UN global conferences, the 1999 forum will be held in the form of the special session of the outer space Committee open to all 185 UN Member States.

At present, the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is composed of 61 countries. It was set up by the General Assembly in 1959 and since has helped to elaborate and negotiate a number of key legal instruments, including the Direct Broadcasting Principles and the Declaration of Principles on Outer Space Benefits.


The Permanent Representative of Spain, Ambassador Carlos Westendorp, has been named to succeed High Representative Carl Bildt, a UN spokesman announced on Monday. The appointment had been made on Friday by the Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council set up in connection with the Dayton Accords. Following the expected endorsement by the UN Security Council, Mr. Westendorp will take up his new duties around 20 June.
For information purposes only - - not an official record

From the United Nations home page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org


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